I noticed a tweet earlier today where someone was mentioning how rude it was not to say ‘excuse me’ when you bump someone on the train. This reminded me of an experience I had while travelling on the London Underground many years ago.
Having just landed my very first temp job, I stood on the platform at West Brompton station. My teeth were chattering as a result of the January chill penetrating my inadequate layers of clothing. I was a backpacker, fresh off the plane from Southeast Asia, and I had spent a year temping in Australia before that, so my business attire did not include a trench coat, warm boots or even a scarf.
As I stood there, willing the train to come, shuffling my feet back and forth to keep warm, I was flooded with relief when I spied the oncoming train. The train slowed to a stop, the doors swooshed open, and I was dismayed to find that the train was packed like a can of sardines. There was absolutely no space whatsoever for me to stand comfortably. With disappointment at my bad luck, I let the doors close without getting on and decided to wait for the next train to come along.
The next train did come, and of course, it was packed too. I let this one pass also, and looked at my watch. If I didn’t get on a train soon, I would surely be late for my first day at work. I vowed that the next train that came, no matter how full, I was going to get on it.
The next train was packed just as much as the others, but I took a big breath and said, “excuse me, excuse me, excuse me” as I inevitably elbowed and squished other passengers. No one got upset; they were seasoned commuters and knew what it took to get a spot on the train each morning.
From that day on, I knew that if I was polite while I squeezed in, I would always find a space, I just had to be bold enough to make that first step onto the train.
I think that my first foray into business was a bit like this experience on the platform. It took me a while to take that first step, but now that I have, I am getting on that train every day, and I’m enjoying the ride.
What about you? What made you take that first step in starting your own business? Did you jump in with both feet or did you start off slowly?